Wonky Muse
Wonky Muse

May 18, 2005

Gotcha?

It's not everyday one's blog gets in the middle of a controversy courtesy of columnist and commentator Donald Luskin, but that's what happened to De Profundis the past few days.

I found a piece written by Mr. Luskin called "Another DeLong Howler" written May 14, 2005. The entry was posted on his blog Poor and Stupid and the pro-privatization web site Social Security Choice. A follow up entry called "Low Class Act" was picked up by the Daou Report today.

Mr. Luskin charged that in my entry "Knock It Off, Bill" [as posted on my mirror journal, De Profundis]I added "stuff" to billionaire investor Warren Buffett's quote and passed it off as the latter's words, not mine. Then he charged economist Brad DeLong with "possible plagiarism" by "lifting the misquotation" from me [emphasis mine]:

But here's what Buffett really said, according to the transcript of an interview with Lou Dobbs:

...a deficit of $100 billion a year, something, 20 years out, seems to terrify the administration. But the $400 plus billion dollars deficit currently does nothing but draw yawns. I mean the idea that this terrible specter room looms over us 20 years out which is a small fraction of the deficit we happily run now seems kind of interesting to me.

All that other stuff came from "musenla" on the De Profundis blog. Here's what "musenla" added to Buffett's quote, himself making it seem that the words were Buffett's, not his own:

There is no question that the Bush Administration is ignoring the most serious economic problems facing America and that they are more interested in ideological driven issues. The most serious fiscal issues are: the General Fund deficit, the current account / trade deficit, and health care. Why are we talking about Social Security?

Mr. Luskin got it all so wrong I don't know where to begin.

First, there was no plagiarism going on. Dr. DeLong didn't quote me, I quoted him. Dr. DeLong's entry was written May 7, 2005. I wrote mine on May 10, 2005. How can Dr. DeLong quote an entry that was written three days after his?

Second, Dr. DeLong's entry prominently displayed the link to Calculated Risk from whose blog he actually got the Buffett quote.

Third, "all the other stuff" that Mr. Luskin charged I "added to Buffett's quote" were Calculated Risk's words, not mine. Moreover, the latter didn't attribute the words to Mr. Buffett, it was his commentary to Mr. Buffett's remarks.

Apparently, Dr. DeLong erroneously indented Calculated Risk's commentary right after the Buffett quote, giving the appearance that the extra verbiage was Mr. Buffett's. Anyone familiar with HTML knows how easy it is to make that mistake. Calculated Risk himself believes that's what it was, an honest mistake.

Fourth, even without the additional verbiage, the thrust of Mr. Buffett's opinion that there are more pressing problems than Social Security remains the same.

Finally, my mistake was inadvertently copying Dr. DeLong's formatting error when all I intended to do was quote Mr. Buffett. I did link to the Buffett interview transcript, but since my entry included Calculated Risk's commentary, I made changes to link to Dr. DeLong and Calculated Risk. I have expressed my apologies to them both via e-mail regarding this unintended error of omission.

Not only did Mr. Luskin mention me and my blog by name, he erroneously attributed the commentary to me and insinuated that I attributed it to Mr. Buffett on purpose. Interestingly, Mr. Luskin not only got his information wrong, he didn't even get the link to my blog right [the link directs you to an Ebay page].

Though his allegations are erroneous, I have to credit Mr. Luskin for pointing out the error regarding the Buffett quote. However, I don't appreciate his insinuation that there was an intent to deceive.

In light of the facts, would Mr. Luskin retract his allegations, apologize to the parties concerned and publish a correction? It remains to be seen.

05-18-05 Update: Mr. Luskin has apologized somewhat to Calculated Risk. I have written him an e-mail and am waiting for his response.

05-19-05 Updated II: I have posted my e-mail to Mr. Luskin as well as his response here.


posted at 12:20 AM by Wonky Muse

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"Sapere Aude."
(Dare to Know)
-- Epistularum Liber Primus, Horace

Wonk (noun): def. A political nerd. Know spelled backwards.

Wonky Muse is the other Filipino American female political blogger. The sane, liberal one.


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